Analysis of Twitter messages exposes myths around August riots - Press Gazette

Analysis of Twitter messages exposes myths around August riots

The latest instalment of The Guardian’s foundation-funded Reading the Riots investigation looks at analysis of 2.6m riot-related Tweets.

And it reveals the extent to which assumptions made about the role of social media in the disturbances were misplaced.

According to professor Rob Procter:

Politicians and commentators were quick to claim that social media played an important role in inciting and organising riots, calling for sites such as Twitter to be closed should events of this nature happen again. But our study has found no evidence of significance in the available data that would justify such a course of action in respect to Twitter.

The Guardian also today reveals the top 10 Twitter users by the number of times they are mentioned on the social networking website – with the paper’s own special projects editor Paul Lewis coming in second:

  1. @RiotCleanUp 30,343
  2. @PaulLewis 29,407
  3. @piersmorgan 20,387
  4. @BBCNews 15,568
  5. @itv_news 15,154
  6. @BBCBreaking 13,050
  7. @guardian 10,981
  8. @riotcleanup 9,972
  9. @simonpegg 9,189
  10. @Lawcol888 9,122

Lewis wrote about his experience reporting the English riots across the country in the September edition of Press Gazette magazine:

He said that the 35,000 new followers he picked up during the riots were ‘not just interested in passively observing Twitter updates”.

They wanted to be part of a conversation and, at times, even collaborate in the news-gathering process,’Lewis added.

Like editors, they asked questions, gave feedback and corrected errors. Throughout the night Twitter followers provided us with postcodes for burning buildings and alerted us to new outbreaks of disorder.

There were repeated offers of shelter, cups of tea, mobile phone recharging points and even transport.



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